Wheelchair accessible trails found in Gulf State Park

5 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have a breathtaking 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches.

Each town strives to be a family-friendly destination for every traveler, including wheelchair users. In the past, visiting beaches with a wheelchair may have been avoided due to the lack of access to roll in the sand, but not here! Not only are the beaches accessible, but these wonderful cities also offer many other experiences for you and your family to enjoy together. I have narrowed down my top five wheelchair accessible things to do in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. So, lock your wheels and sit tight - you are in for a ride! 

Top 5 Wheelchair Accessible Activities Along Alabama's Coast

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, AL

1. Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Home to close to 500 animals, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is fully wheelchair accessible and has been voted the #1 zoo in Alabama. Here, you will be able to see a variety of species such as peacocks, lions, bears, monkeys, snakes and many more. The zoo was recently relocated and offers an even more accessible attraction for wheelchair travelers to enjoy. Wide pathways and spacious picnic areas make it easy to get around and enjoy the day. 

If you want an up-close animal encounter at a small extra cost, you can feed a sloth, pet a baby kangaroo, or pose with other animals for your favorite photos. These encounters are always done with a knowledgeable, well-trained zookeeper in a supervised environment and will certainly be something you don’t want to miss! 

The zoo offers wide pathways for easy up-close viewing of the exhibits and covers 7 ½ acres. Also provided are rest stops with benches along the paths and shaded picnic areas to enjoy a drink or snack from the seasonal concession stand. Oh, and did I mention the free parking? Save your parking money and treat yourself to a souvenir from the gift shop.

2. Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Love the outdoors? If so, then the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is the place for you! This trail is not your average small, dusty trail. This is a 6,200-acre wildlife sanctuary with more than 28 miles of easily accessible paved pathways, located in both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. As you roll through six distinct ecosystems, don’t forget to bring your camera! You will have plenty of chances to capture local wildlife in its natural environment.

Wheelchair mats on Alabama's beaches

3. WildNative Cruises

Explore the waterways of coastal Alabama with WildNative Tours. This company offers wheelchair accessible options to roll right onto a large boat and enjoy a coastal eco-tour. On this cruise, you will have the opportunity to see osprey, pelicans, gulls and many other birds, and need I mention the highly desired experience of dolphins swimming near the boat? This tour lasts about two hours long, and trust me, you will hate to see it end, as you will want to do this experience again and again.

4. The Hot Shop at Coastal Arts Center

Take a creative journey during your stay while taking a glass blowing class at The Hot Shop. The Hot Shop is Alabama’s premier hot glass blowing studio, where you can make your own glass pieces, and it is located at the Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach. 

You can roll right into the studio, admire beautiful pieces of glassware made by others, and then have a well-trained glassblower assist you with making your own piece of beautiful art. No matter your ability, all safety precautions are met to ensure your safety when handling the hot glass. 

When your masterpiece is completed, just leave your address and once the glass is set and cooled, your package encasing your art will arrive at your doorstep. It’s as easy as that. 

5. The Beach

Last, but most certainly not least, visit the beach! Gulf Shores has made great strides in making their white-sand beach even more accessible by installing Access Mats on the beach. These mats make it easy to roll with your family all the way down to the water, eliminating the struggle of navigating wheels over and through the sand. 

If you want to venture off the mat, Gulf Shores also offers manual beach wheelchairs for the public to use on a first-come, first-served basis. And if you want or desire more speed in the sand, electric beach chairs are available to rent by contacting Beach Power Rentals. These can be driven with a joystick and can easily roll on the sand without the hassles of being pushed by another person.

So, now you can see why Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama is a must-do destination for any wheelchair user. With accessible outdoor and indoor activities, what more could you ask for? Amazing food, you said? They have that too! Accessible accommodations, you said? Yes, that too and plenty of options to choose from. Now, unlock your wheels and start planning your accessible getaway to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.


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